Mucking around with some ideas for a Runequest VI campaign setting, one of which is that I want all the cults and brotherhoods that the players could join to have something questionable about them, even when they are socially accepted and seen as “good” for civilisation.
The Ghost Hand School of Sorcery
The most obvious sign of a Ghost Hand mage, is that one of their hands has been amputated, usually as part of a deliberate initiation ritual. A true master of the school can be recognised by the fact that both of their hands have been amputated! Note: the missing hand(s) cannot be regenerated by any magic means.
The amputated hand is kept and preserved, as it allows the school to track down any aberrant apprentices. Once the member is a trusted adept, the hand may be returned to them for animation as a familiar (with the enchant spell), the completion of which is one of the markers of the rank of mage.
The Ghost Hand school originated in the Moon Age, when an exile from Mal’s court known as the First Hand wandered the shadowlands and bartered the sensation of pain for knowledge from demons and other creatures of shadow. The first amputation granted him insight sufficient to trick a demon who had bound his soul.
The Ghost Hands rose to prominence in the Founding age, when mortality struck and people did not know what to do with ghosts. The Ghost Hands had some knowledge of the spirit world and were able to drive off or destroy the first wave of ghosts. While other ways of dealing with ghosts are now known, the order retains some prestige from this event. Nomad Shamans hate Ghost Hand sorcerers, and delight in continuing the amputation process if an unlucky sorcerer falls into their hands.
The order continues to research ghosts and spirits, and the methods for defending against them, and driving them off or destroying them. A few renegades have been found who used forbidden knowledge to dominate ghosts for their own nefarious ends.
Death and Magic, although the order refers to Death as the Shadow rune and tends to embellish it somewhat in the order’s manuscripts.
Invocation (Ghost Hands), Lore (Ghosts), Shaping, Willpower.
Banish, Bypass Armour, Enchant, Ghost Hand*, Mark, Mystic, Repulse (Ghosts), Spirit Resistance, Transfer Wound, Wrack (soul).
Ghost Hand Spell
This spell creates a ghostly hand, in the place of the sorcerer’s missing hand, that can pass through solid material, and is capable of manipulating objects. All apprentices are taught this spell after their initiation amputation ceremony is completed. This spell is unique to the Ghost Hand order, and greedy apprentices who have tried to sell the secret have found themselves being choked to death by invisible hands.
Gift – Summon Karach
Karach is the shadow demon who once enslaved the First Hand. This gift may be granted to exceptional Mages, but is more likely to be granted to Arch Mages who have proven themselves to be beyond temptation. Among other powers, Karach can cast Sculpt (Shadow). The first time he is summoned, the character must successfully bargain with him, trading the demon a permanent point of magic in exchange for knowledge (which can be represented by bonus experience rolls). This magic point is regained if the character amputates their remaining hand.
Novices and apprentices are required to assist higher ranked members of the order. Adepts and other high rank members are obliged to give aid to anyone who is afflicted by ghosts (although a gift is customary after the spirit has been dealt with). The order as a whole is hostile to nomads and their ghost wielding shaman, supporting imperial campaigns against them, and so as individuals Ghost Hand sorcerers are quite prejudiced against nomads